Used 2000 Nissan Maxima Review
The athlete of family sedans.
Sometimes, a car doesn't have to be visually appealing to instill desire. Since 1995, the Nissan Maxima has been such a car. This self-proclaimed "four-door sports car" went from beauty to beast that year, but the mechanicals underneath the bodywork created a symphony no enthusiast could resist. A 1997 reskin helped in the styling department, but the real draw continued to be the stunningly smooth 3.0-liter dual overhead cam V6 engine, which Ward's Auto World dubbed "the best V6 engine available in America."
For 2000, a struggling Nissan releases a redesigned Maxima with more of what's good about the car (luxury and performance) and more of what's controversial (odd styling cues ladled over a dull shape). Let's start with the controversial. Wheel arches ripped off from Audi. A gaping, slat-toothed grille that would look right at home on a Buick Regal. Teardrop taillights with smoked lens surrounds (SE only) that appear out of place in a sea of body-color plastic and metal. Love it or hate it, at least it's more distinctive than the car it replaces.
Besides, from behind the steering wheel, you won't care one whit what the outside looks like. This car is a sheer joy to drive. The V6 benefits from a horsepower and torque boost, from 190 horses to 222 at 6,400 rpm and from 205 to 217 foot-pounds of twisting force at 4,000 rpm. Better engine breathing and exhaust system changes that reduce backpressure when the engine is revved hard are responsible for the added go-power.
And rev it hard you will, regardless of whether you select the standard five-speed manual transmission or the available four-speed automatic. Handling is enhanced thanks to suspension refinements. Thicker stabilizer bars have been added front and back, while the rear suspension receives modifications that provide more stability at the limit. Four-wheel disc antilock brakes are standard, and traction control is available with the automatic gearbox.
Inside, the sport-oriented theme continues from the previous car, with the usual luxury enhancements. Mid-level SE models get titanium-faced gauges, while all models have a new 60/40 split-bench seat. A longer wheelbase creates a larger interior; rear seat riders get 1.9 more inches of legroom, and trunk space has grown to 15.1 cubic feet. An adjustable center armrest is available, which along with increased headroom and redesigned seats, contributes to improved passenger comfort.
Maxima is available in three flavors: basic GXE, sporty SE, and luxurious GLE. Standard equipment on all Maximas includes air conditioning, remote keyless entry, and various power accoutrements. SE adds racy alloy wheels, special gauges, a sport suspension, fog lights and a rear decklid spoiler. GLE models have fake wood accents, leather seats, a 200-watt Bose audio system, and automatic climate control. A power sunroof, heated seats, and side airbags can be added to any model.
A treat to drive, the new Maxima is an enthusiast's alternative to staid models from Honda and Toyota.
edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.